Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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August 20th, 2015

Good for You – Sandra Gerry!

Fifteen years ago Sandra Gerry dismayed with our appearance and image decided to embark on a project to beautify Sullivan County.

Gerry’s idea was simple – Get people involved in beautification projects in their neighborhoods – And something wonderful can happen.

The highly praised beautification and community development program primarily funded by the Gerry Foundation as we all know is the Sullivan Renaissance.

The Sullivan Renaissance provides communities with seed money for beautification projects. A limited number of proposals are funded each year under a competitive process overseen by the Sullivan Renaissance program. Grant amounts and requirements vary depending upon program categories.

The results have been amazing.

Just take a ride around Sullivan County and you will see the positive impact the Sullivan Renaissance has done. Not only have they beautified our neighborhoods, but they have brought people together working for a common goal of community pride.

At the recent Sullivan Renaissance 2015 award ceremony people were shocked that Sandra Gerry began the awards presentation by calling out elected officials and businesses for not doing their part in beautifying Sullivan County. She singled out parts of Liberty and Thompson in her tirade.

Good for you – Sandra Gerry!

It is time that someone spoke out and hit a raw nerve pertaining to our image and appearance.

We need everyone to do their part in upgrading the appearance of Sullivan County. People have to stop taking the work and monies donated to Sullivan County by the Gerry Foundation for granted.

The simple truth is they don’t have to do anything for us.

Instead of walking away from Sullivan County with all of their riches – Alan and Sandra Gerry decided to give back. We have Bethel Woods, an upgraded hospital, and the Sullivan Renaissance because of them.
Our elected officials and business community needs to take Sandra Gerry’s words, and instead of being angered and defensive, practice what she is preaching.

In Liberty – Village and Town Officials have been pressing hard to get owner to clean up the boarded up property where the old movie house sat on Main Street.

Let’s all work together to improve the image and appearance of Sullivan County.

Just look at Swan Lake and you will see the impact of the Sullivan Renaissance.

Nancy Levine, the unofficial Mayor of Swan Lake, along with many involved community residents have transformed Swan Lake thanks to the Sullivan Renaissance.

Levine told me, “It’s hard to imagine a more effective community beautification effort than that sponsored by Sullivan Renaissance in Sullivan County. It has been transformative for towns, villages and little hamlets like Swan Lake!”

“Twelve years ago, Swan Lake was full of weeds, litter, and un-mowed lawns from one end to the other. Today, Swan Lake residents and summer visitors relax at a beautiful Lakeside Park, and then take a stroll to the restored Stone Castle with its gardens, seating areas and peaceful view of Swan Lake. A landscaped waterfall area begins their walk through the hamlet passing by refurbished hotel mixing bowls brimming with flowers situated on the many stone walls. Numerous garden areas and benches pave the walk all the way to the landscaped Swan Lake Firehouse.”

Levine added, “It is the inspiration, leadership, collaboration, grants program and award monies from Sullivan Renaissance that has enabled Swan Lake Renaissance to accomplished so much over the years. Sullivan Renaissance gives an assist by sending its’ horticulture expert, community planner, and team of rotating volunteers. It pays for an intern to help during the summer months, and purchased a Gator so we could water and move equipment.”

“For sure, we volunteers work hard but it has been an amazing and rewarding experience for all. None of it would have been possible without Sandra and Alan’s vision for a more beautiful Sullivan County.”

According to the Sullivan Renaissance website the idea of holding a contest to improve the aesthetics of Sullivan County originated when Sandra Gerry and her husband Alan Gerry were traveling in the French Alps, “they visited a village that had won a regional beautification competition. All of the inhabitants had participated with planting, painting and cleaning up. Together they had changed the look of their community – filling it with flowers, cleanliness and warmth.”

“My thoughts turned almost immediately to Sullivan County,” she said, “Why couldn’t we do something like that here?”

“Since its beginning in 2001, Sullivan Renaissance has funded hundreds of community beautification projects in all 6 villages and 15 towns of Sullivan County. The program has grown to include edible gardens at schools, internships and scholarships for youth, mini-grants and façade grants for businesses, seasonal demonstration grants, a Community Mitzvah Award for summer camps and bungalow colonies, municipal partnerships, technical assistance grants, environmental grants and special endeavors like the SullivanArc Garden Tour and the Eat Kitchen at Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County.”

This 2015 Winners Are:

The Rock Hill Business and Community Association received the Golden Feather, a $25,000 grant presented by NYS Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, for its Public Art Project. It was given to one of five large community projects that exhibited the highest level of excellence by incorporating beautification as part of a long-term strategy.

The Narrowsburg Beautification Group received the second place Silver Feather Award of $10,000.
The Phillipsport Community Center got the $5000 award for the community’s planning efforts.

The winner of the $10,000 Community Mitzvah Award went to American Theological in Kiamesha for beautifying its facility. Second place award of $5000 went to Khal Divre Chaim Bungalow Colony in Kauneonga Lake; while third place of $3000 was awarded to Camp Bais Yaakov in Ferndale. Camp Bais Yaakov was also given a special Judge’s “Wow” Award of $1000 for its beautiful flowers. This contest included ten camps and bungalow colonies in Sullivan County.

The winning prize of $1000 in the first Sullivan Renaissance Video Contest went to the New Hope Community for its video “Growing Community” which was then shown. Judges also recognized two videos with honorable mention prizes: $250 to Forestburgh Playhouse for its video “Flower Power” which invited people to discover the beauty of Sullivan County, and a $100 to the Smallwood Mongaup Valley Fire Department for its video “Rebirthing Sullivan County” which used custom music.


The Forestburgh Playhouse won the “Best Overall Showing of Flowers Award” of $5000. Judges were impressed by the overall number of gardens, planters and displays; an abundance of color, texture, unique combinations and liberal use of Sullivan Renaissance 2015 collection; innovative designs, including vertical plantings, and the scale of gardens that were appropriate for the size of the buildings and wall spaces; the appropriate mix of perennials, annuals, shrubs and trees to create a year round appeal; good use of native and non-invasive plants; and a project that makes one say wow.

Other communities receiving $1000 Judges’ Choice Awards for flowers included: Phillipsport Community Center for the “Best Use of the Sullivan Renaissance Collection;” Mamakating Library for the “Best New Garden in an Urban Setting;” St. Patrick’s Church in Long Eddy for “Best New Garden in a Rural Setting;” and the Village of Woodridge for “Best Community Municipal Collaboration.”

The special Best Showing of Flowers Award – Maintenance” of $5000 was given to Neversink Renaissance – for “wowing the judges” with its multiple gardens. The $3000 award for the “Best Single Garden” went to St. Peter’s Regional School in Liberty.

The judges also awarded three special awards. Winner of a Judge’s Choice Award of $2000 for the “Most Improved Street Beautification” was Hurleyville-Sullivan First. A Judges’ Choice Award of $1000 for the “Best Container in a Single Location went to Temple Sholom in Monticello. And the last Judges Choice Award of $1000 for “Garden Bed Maintenance” was Lumberland Parks and Recreation.


Category A projects are made up of single elements such as a new sign or hanging baskets. This category was made possible, in part, through
the sponsorship of WVOS/WSUL.
First place ($3000)
• Literacy Volunteers in Monticello – Building Landscaping
Second place ($2000)
• Mileses Cemetery – Cemetery Sign and Landscaping
Third place ($1000)
• Hudson River Healthcare in Monticello – Duane Stoner Memorial Garden

SPECIAL JUDGES’ CHOICE AWARDS – Sponsored by Sullivan County Democrat
Community Collaboration ($1000)
• Sleepy Hollow Development in Monticello – Sign Garden
Youth Participation ($1000)
• Sullivan County Headstart in Monticello – Butterfly Teaching Garden
Historic Preservation ($1000)
• Lake Huntington Fire Department – Historical Garden

Use of Flowers ($1000)
• Sunshine Hall Free Library in Eldred – Façade Improvements


Category B projects are made up of multiple elements such as park enhancements. This category was made possible, in part, through the sponsorship of Thunder 102/Bold Gold Media.
First place ($10,000):
• St. Patrick’s Mission Church in Long Eddy – Historical Garden
Second place ($7000):
• Mamakating Library in Wurtsboro – Library Landscaping
Third place ($5000):
• Eldred Central School – Gardens for Learning Project
SPECIAL JUDGES’ CHOICE AWARDS – Sponsored by The River Reporter
Historic Preservation ($1000)
• St. Patrick’s Mission Church in Long Eddy – Historical Garden
Streetscaping ($1000 each)
• Community Action Commission in Liberty – Façade Improvements
Youth Engagement ($1000 each)
• Mamakating Library in Wurtsboro – Library Landscaping
Environmental Stewardship ($1000)
• Eldred Central School – Gardens for Learning Project


Category C projects are at multiple locations that incorporate beautification as part of a long-term community wide strategy.
Awards in the category were presented by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.
Golden Feather ($25,000 grant):
• Rock Hill Business and Community Association – Public Art Project
Silver Feather ($10,000):
• Narrowsburg Beautification Group – Narrowsburg Trail Project
Planning Award ($5000):
• Phillipsport Community Center – Phillipsport Area Beautification
SPECIAL JUDGES’ CHOICE AWARDS – Sponsored by Kristt Company
Placemaking ($1500)
• Jeffersonville JEMS – Events Stage and Welcome Center
Historic Preservation ($1500)
• Village of Woodridge – Parks & Aesthetic Enhancements
Environmental Stewardship ($1000)
• Phillipsport Community Center – Phillipsport Area Beautification

The Rock Hill project will be on display during a “Golden Feather Celebration” on Saturday, August 22. Contact Sullivan Renaissance for more details.

Sullivan Renaissance is a beautification and community development program principally funded by the Gerry Foundation. For information about Sullivan Renaissance, contact 845-295-2445 or visit

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself on National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in THE SULLIVAN COUNTY POST.

1 comment to Good for You – Sandra Gerry!

  • Rose Ann Bush

    How long has it been since Arrow Head Ranch, on Cooley Road had a fire? It has to be more than five years. Yet the debris, unsightly buildings and rubble still exists. Calls to the Liberty Town Officials bring no results. It is a huge eyesore! Take a ride on Cooley Road and come up with a way to remove this mess.